The internet isn’t evil but because some people would rather use it for inappropriate, rude and insane things, some may say it is. I mean before now, before the internet, bullying and harassing were mostly physical and happened in school and in the neighborhood by that nasty mean older, bigger kid.
Now it has evolved and keeps evolving as technology advances. Well, it is true that the victims of this act are usually young people and teenagers due to a lot of reasons some of which are their very early and strong desire to use the internet, play games and stay connected with friends online.
These things aren’t wrong to want, but kids may be exposed to things they cannot handle.
Just as technology has created a platform for everyone to stay connected in a meaningful way, it has also created an opportunity for harassment and bullying for those who chose to abuse the internet.
Because of the seemingly reduced supervision older people have on their younger ones in the use of the internet as compared to physical supervision, it may be difficult for a parent to notice that his child is being bullied online.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying may vary a little but some things are certain;
- It is done using an electronic device, completely virtual,
- It is a deliberate act,
- It is intended to harm,
- It is repeated.
It’s also called online bullying and it is simply the use of devices like computers and cell phones to intentionally harass or bully someone through sending messages, using apps or by social media platforms.
It could be a photo, a page or a message that after a person insists is taken down doesn’t get taken down, it could be comments, usually upsetting comments about a person’s life, sexual orientation, race, religion or gender, or it could be any form of coercion – forcing someone to do something by threatening to embarrass them online, usually sexual.
Common places and means by which this unspeakable act occurs are:
- Via social media, the most common means, through popular sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,
- Via text messages sent through phones and computers,
- Via emails and gaming platforms.
Consequences of Cyberbullying
Depending on the extent of bullying, the constant pressure may lead a young person to make terrible choices and take devastating actions.
It is a cause of emotional depression and mood unbalances. Harassment and embarrassment can be traumatic leading to secondary consequences such as addiction on the victims’ part. Sometimes, the victims may become cyberbullies themselves just to find satisfaction.
On the other hand, the bully can get hurt too. Cyberbullying is a violation of school laws and codes and there is serious punishment for it which may include dismissal and even involvement with the local police. When adults are involved, it’s more serious, more legally serious.
Prevention is Better
As a guardian, your child is better prepared for the online world if he knows about cyberbullying. So, discuss these things, help improve his social skills, teach online respect and especially social media safety skills, which include not uploading personal information online.
Let him know where the line is. Don’t fail to meet with appropriate school authorities when a child is being bullied online. It also makes sense to contact the parents of the supposed bullies.
Parents should know that most children won’t report cases of cyberbullying because of the fear of reduced internet access. Signs may include:
- Having a high level of secrecy of his online activities,
- Avoiding school,
- Emotional disturbance especially after using the internet,
- Nervousness after receiving a text message.
Help your child respond positively to cyberbullying by not responding at all – blocking all contact with the bully is advisable.